Belfast- William “Bill” Heaney 76 of 6 Pike St., Belfast died
unexpectedly at Jones Memorial Hospital on Saturday, April 18.
To the many people who knew Bill, he was a delight. He
was a multi-talented- teacher, actor, politician, historian etc. He
was described by many as friendly, personable, and
charismatic. He was also a gifted and humorous storyteller. He
was so many things that folks who knew him suggested that he
write his autobiography to share his adventures with others.
Born Oct. 27th, 1943 in Dansville, NY, Bill was the son of
the late J. Wm.and Marion Herdman Heaney of Angelica. His
mother was a registered nurse, and his father was doing 4 years
of duty with the U.S. Army in both Europe and the South Pacific
during World War II.
Bill entered Angelica Central School in the first kinder-
garten the school ever had. He played sports and was active
in the chorus and student council. In junior and senior high
school, Bill was an active Boy Scout earning his Eagle Scout
Award when he was just 15. After high school graduation in
1961, Bill enrolled in SUNY at Geneseo.
In college Bill was very active in campus politics and
his fraternity Theta Omega Phi or the Order of Prometheus.
Once situated on campus, Bill ran for president of the student
Senate only to lose narrowly. After that, he was elected
President of his fraternity and graduated in 1965 being named
to Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities. He
would later be named to two other “Who’s Who”–one in
American Education and one in American Politics.
Even though Bill graduated with a B.S. in Social Studies
Education, he had also acquired an English major too. That
was why Belfast Central School hired him to teach English in
Grades 10-12. During his years in Belfast, he was advisor to
many class organizations. Out of school, he began acting and
directing in community theatre, dinner theatre and NYS
historical drama. In 27 years he directed or acted in nearly
30 plays in western NY and northwestern PA.
It is noteworthy that in the late ‘60’s, Bill became a
“hippie” and attended the Woodstock Music Fair in Bethel, NY,
one of his truly unforgettable experiences.
Bill had always been interested in politics.
At the encouragement of his friend, John Hasper, he
became a Republican and ran for the Town Board in Belfast.
He won, and three years later he became the Republican
Election Commissioner. Two years after that he became the
Allegany County Republican Chairman. He would serve in
that post for 19 years.
As chairman, Bill became a delegate to two national
Republican Conventions –in 1992 in Houston for George
Bush and in 1996 in San Diego for Bob Dole. During these
years, Bill also worked for Rep. Amo Houghton as
Congressional Regional Director and political consultant.
Finally, in 2001 Bill was asked by Gov. George Pataki to
become a regional representative in the western Southern
Tier of NYS. He did and worked at this until 2007. Then he
worked part time for Assemblyman Joe Giglio and then full
time for Senator Cathy Young retiring in 2017.
Somewhere along the line Bill became involved in boxing.
in 1989 he received a phone call from Brian Sullivan, a Buffalo
boxing promoter who asked if the Belfast Lions Club would
like to sponsor a boxing tournament to commemorate the
100 years since William Muldoon brought John L. Sullivan to
Belfast to train for his championship fight. Bill said yes, and
thus began his10 year boxing promotion around NYS.
In retirement, Bill immersed himself in Allegany County
local history directing the local historians production of
“History Week” the last week of September in Wellsville and
Bill is survived by his wife Eva, three sons: Aran(Teresa),
Brendan(Molly) and Jered(Jasmine); two brothers John(Mary)
and Mark(Kay) seven grandchildren (Aidan, Quinn, Brody,
Owen, Jenna, Finn and Mara,) and several nieces and nephews.
A private visitation will be held at the Treusdell Funeral
Home in Belfast. Internment will be in Holy Cross Cemetery. A
memorial service will be scheduled at the convenience of the
family at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the
Belfast Lion’s Club. Online condolences may be made by clicking the button below.